Republican Presidential candidate front-runner Donald Trump met with the Washington Post’s editorial board Monday and unveiled part of his foreign policy team. Forcing Mexico to pay for a border wall, bringing back waterboarding and other forms of torture, a banning Muslims from entering the United States, and killing terrorists’ families are among Trump’s most controversial policy proposals to date.
The team behind such proposals is chaired by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who endorsed Trump in February and was named his Chief National Security Adviser earlier this month. On Monday, Trump revealed to the Post a “pretty representative group” of his foreign policy advisers.
“Walid Phares, who you probably know. Ph.D., adviser to the House of Representatives. He’s a counter-terrorism expert,” Trump told the Post.
Phares was also a top adviser to Mitt Romney in 2012, which led to speculation over his controversial past as a part of a brutal Lebanese militia. “During the 1980s, Phares, a Maronite Christian, trained Lebanese militants in ideological beliefs justifying the war against Lebanon’s Muslim and Druze factions, according to former colleagues,” Adam Serwer wrote in Mother Jones in 2011. “Since fleeing to the United States in 1990, when the Syrians took over Lebanon, Phares has reinvented himself as a counterterrorism and national security expert, traveling comfortably between official circles and the GOP’s anti-Muslim wing.”
According to al-Jazeera, “[Phares] is promoted as a featured expert by the David Project, the Israel on Campus Coalition, David Horowitz’s FrontPage Magazine, Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch, and Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum. Phares, as well as, Horowitz, Spencer, and Pipes, were featured in Fear Inc., a project by the Center for American Progress that explores the network fueling Islamophobia in the United States.
Page runs a New York-based financial institution and investment fund called Global Energy Capital LLC. He’s a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a member and former fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations “where he focused on the Caspian Sea region and the economic development in former Soviet states,” according to the Post.
Papadopoulos is the director at the Center for International Energy and Natural Resources Law & Security at the London Center of International Law Practice. He previously worked at the conservative-leaning Hudson Institute as a research fellow. Earlier in the campaign cycle, Papadopoulos advised Trump rival-turned-endorser Ben Carson. Papadopoulos has written multiple times for Israeli media, including a religiously Zionist media network where his biography said he is the “initiator of the first conference on U.S.-Israel-Greece-Cyprus geopolitical developments.”
Gen. Keith Kellogg
Kellogg is a former Army lieutenant general and an executive vice president at the CACI International, “a Virginia-based intelligence and information technology consulting firm with clients around the world,” according to the Post.
Kellogg was also a member of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) under the man widely credited with the dissolution of the Iraqi army, L. Paul Bremmer. Bremmer’s decision was crucial in the formation of ISIS, according to a number of former military figures.
Schmitz was appointed the Pentagon’s Inspector General in 2002. Three years after being appointed though, Schmitz found himself under inspection. “Schmitz slowed or blocked investigations of senior Bush administration officials, spent taxpayer money on pet projects and accepted gifts that may have violated ethics guidelines, according to interviews with current and former senior officials in the inspector general’s office, congressional investigators and a review of internal e-mail and other documents,” the LA Times reported in 2005. The Post said Schmitz is also a former employee of Blackwater Worldwide — a mercenary fighting force used during the Iraq war and maintained by the Obama administration with a controversial record.
Schmitz also once argued that lawsuits against Blackwater shouldn’t proceed because the company was operating in a country with a different system of governance.
“In 2008, in attempting to have the case thrown out of federal court in Florida, Schmitz argued that because the crash occurred in Afghanistan, Sharia law should be applied,” Jeremy Scahill wrote in the Nation in 2011. “Conveniently, Sharia law does not hold a company responsible for the actions of employees performed within the course of their work.”
He then went on to co-author a report called “Sharia: The Threat to America” for the same race-baiting organization that provided Trump with the poll he cited in his Muslim ban proposal.
In earlier statements, Trump has revealed retired Air Force Col. Sam Clovis and a Sessions’ aide by the name of Stephen Miller as part of his policy team, though the pair do not exclusively focus on foreign policy.
For his part, Clovis is described by the Des Moines Register as an “evangelical conservative activist” and a former staffer for Rick Perry. ThinkProgress wrote about Clovis’ domestic policies in greater detail here.